janna conner jewelry

Los Angeles CA, Jewelry, Fashion

A Day at the Los Angeles Opera with Carmen

My first memories of opera, take me back to grammar school.  My mother had briefly trained to be an opera singer before abandoning it in pursuit of becoming a doctor. Of the two, she found medicine to be the lesser difficult discipline even though she was one of only three women in her USC medical school class. Whenever she picked me up from school I was greeted with Die Zauberflüte or another one of her favorites blasting out of her car, announcing her arrival in the carpool lane.  Despite enjoying opera, I'd actually never been to see one before.  Truth be told I think I was a little intimidated. Going to the opera was for aficionados, people who knew every aria and composer by heart.  Nevertheless, I was excited when my mom asked me to join her to see Carmen at the LA Opera.

Henri-Lucien_Doucet_-_Carmen.jpg
Carmen_-_illustration_by_Luc_for_Journal_Amusant_1875.jpg

On the left, the original Carmen, Célestine Galli-Marié in Carmen, by Henri Lucien Doucet (1884), musée de Marseille.

Above illustration of Carmen by Luc for Journal Amusant 1875, a french satirical weekly magazine.

 

Before every performance, the conductor, James Conlon, gives an hour long introduction. He is also the music director and has quite an impressive career, conducting at La Scala in Milan and over 270 times at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in addition to serving as the director of the Paris National Opera.  He's a great speaker, very informative and I appreciated the backstory of Carmen that he gave while dropping little fun facts and juicy tidbits about its inception. The orchestra is below the stage so you can't see the musicians during the performance but you can see Conlon with his hair whipping back and forth as he waves his baton energetically.  Mozart in the Jungle was in the back of my mind as I watched him conduct.

Ana Maria Martinez  as Carmen. Photo by Ken Howard / LA Opera

Ana Maria Martinez as Carmen. Photo by Ken Howard / LA Opera

I had always thought of Carmen as a Spanish opera. I was partially right, it takes place in Spain, but is sung in French (Bizet was French). Since I speak French, it was fun trying to decipher some of the arias as they were sung and not solely relying on the subtitle teleprompter that hangs above the stage. It was adapted from the novella by Prosper Mérimée, that came out in 1845.  Georges Bizet adapted the story of Carmen into his opera and died three months after it debuted in march of 1875,  at the age of only 36! Similar to Mozart who died at 35. It's remarkable to think what both of them could have achieved if they had only lived longer.

In the 19th century, Spain seemed like an exotic and distant backdrop for the story of a Roma femme fatale whose magnetic charisma and sultriness captivated every man she encountered. Carmen is on her work break from the local factory when she meets Don José, a naive soldier who is the only man in the square oblivious to her charms. She is intrigued by this challenge and sets her sights on acquiring his affections. After a factory dispute ensues, Don José is ordered to question and imprison her but she escapes with his help, he is then put in jail and reconnects with her upon his release. After a scuffle with his commanding officer, Don José is forced to desert the military and his mother and her wishes for him to marry the girl next door. He joins Carmen's gang of smugglers but becomes jealous that meanwhile Carmen's feelings have shifted to a well known matador named Escamillo. Incensed, Don José kills Carmen in a fit of rage outside the arena.

carmen closeup.jpg

With all this melodrama, I was surprised to learn that Carmen is considered Opéra Comique. Essentially that means to separate musical numbers with dialogue. Carmen is a feminist prototype, she is unapologetically in control of her own destiny. She is completely transparent about her motives both to do what she wants and to love freely. "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" She does what she wants when she wants, sometimes rather capriciously. The opera's depiction of lawlessness, immorality, and the murder of the main character made for a bold subject matter both at the time of its writing and even today. Carmen has become one of the most popular operas thanks in part to its many well known arias such as Habanera and Toreador.

Flamenco in Carmen. Photo by Ken Howard / LA Opera

Flamenco in Carmen. Photo by Ken Howard / LA Opera

Not only are there wonderful singers in Carmen,  there are also talented flamenco dancers. They give a physical expression to Bizet's dialogue and assist in the telling of Carmen's story. They are led by Spanish choreographer Nuria Castejón,  a dancer with the Ballet Nacional de España and choreographer for Pénelope Cruz in Pedro Almadovor's Volver.  Their costumes are magical as they stomp, heels clicking with fringe flying. The toreador's costumes were also fantastic with satisfying detail all the way down to the pink socks!

If I were dressing Carmen, I would pair my Hazel tassel earrings in Onyx and this embroidered tulle dress by Needle and Thread

Carmen bullfight.jpg
Taking a bow at the end of Carmen

Taking a bow at the end of Carmen

Such a revered opera calls for an impressive setting and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center does not disappoint. It's hard to believe that once upon a time, this center did not exist. In fact, it's only 53 years old. Dorothy, the wife of the former LA Times publisher Norman Chandler, spearheaded the fundraising efforts to get the center made. At the time, the Philharmonic was sharing a performance space with a local church since the early 20's, and Dorothy Buffum Chandler thought that Los Angeles deserved something a little more dignified in stature. The center was built by Seattle transplant architect Welton Becket and Associates, responsible for iconic Angeleno buildings such as the Capitol Building, the Beverly Hilton (the home of the Golden Globes), Pan Pacific Auditorium, Cinerama dome and LAX Theme building to name a few. Built from 1964-1967, becoming at the time the nation's second biggest music center after Lincoln Center in New York.

Photos from Top to Bottom, Dorothy Chandler at the opening in 1964.  Zubin Mehta, left, Dorothy Buffum Chandler and architect Welton Becket. Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall with lattice windows. One of many chandeliers in the grand staircase.

Gustavo Dudamel isn't the only young music director that the Los Angeles Philharmonic has had. Bombay, India born Zubin Mehta, was only 28 when he became the music director at the time of the opening! He was known as Zubie Baby and the Swinging Symphonist. The ushers were dressed in raspberry and orange red Nehru collared jackets in tribute to his heritage.

Architectural drawing of the orchestra foyer by Welton Becket and Associates. The foyer today.

The philharmonic played at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion until 2003 when it moved down the street to Disney Hall. The building while not overly impressive from the outside is quite grand on the inside. It houses large lattice like windows and countless chandeliers from the sixties.  Upstairs where the talk is given prior to the opera, there is a bar with a large Frank Stella painting and an adjoining nook with Chinese wood screens that make you want to curl up with a whisky cocktail and a cozy conversation. It's like entering a time warp but in the very best way. All the decor appears to be original, from the pea green carpet and dark paneled walls to the ornate chandeliers. This is an impressive feat in a city like Los Angeles that loves to tear down or remodel anything that is remotely past its prime.

Frank Stella Irregular Polygons, 1966. Champs baby! One must have champers at the Opera. Pictured in front of one of many gold mosaic tiled columns. Gilded swallows swoop around the mezzanine bar, Chinoiserie in the mezzanine.

You can see Carmen this Saturday, September 23rd as it's simulcast live in Santa Monica (for more SM info click here) and Exposition Park. Admission is free, doors open at 5 pm and show starts at 7 with a running time of 3 hours 25 minutes with 2 intermissions. Bring your chairs and blankets and picnic under the stars. Los Angeles magazine is even hosting a Wine Terrace on the pier. Sadly, no alcohol is permitted at Exposition Park. For more info on Exposition Park, click here.

Opera under the stars in Santa Monica . Photo by Craig T. Matthew

Opera under the stars in Santa Monica. Photo by Craig T. Matthew

Food

My Must Have's for 4th of July

This year the 4th falls on a Tuesday so it's a particularly long weekend.  That means lots of bbqs, parties and socializing with friends. I've been watching my calories lately, trying to lose the last of my baby weight and I've switched it up from my usual wine to tequila. The reason why is that tequila has fewer calories (64 per ounce), is naturally sweet (since it comes from agave) and has a lower glycemic impact and no hangover! This makes it one of the healthiest options for alcohol around. I usually drink mine with a few limes squeezed and a dash of sparkling water but for the holiday weekend I may splurge and throw in a splash of fresh squeezed grapefruit!

The Paloma

Picture by Sam Linsell (Drizzle & Dips)

Picture by Sam Linsell (Drizzle & Dips)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 ounces of reposado tequila (or a good quality blanco)
  • juice of half a ruby grapefruit
  • 0.5 ounces of agave syrup or simple syrup
  • 2.5 ounces of club soda
  • a dash of fresh lime juice (optional)
  • Ice cubes

 

Instructions

  • Mix the grapefruit juice, tequila and agave syrup until well mixed.
  • Pour over a tall glass filled with ice and top with soda water.

 

Options

  • Add a dash of lime juice
  • Rim the glass with salt
  • Leave the sugar out, it won't be sweet but it's still delicious!

What do I intend to be doing this weekend whilst sipping my tequila you ask? I grew up in Manhattan Beach and my parents still live there so summer weekends often include a little beach time. I like to keep things simple when beach bound. My favorite accessories I'll be rocking will definitely include some festive shades of blue!

I first learned about Teixits Vicens from a friend of mine who has a vacation home in Mallorca, Spain. I've never been to Mallorca, (or Spain for that matter) but am dying to go. Teixits Vicens is a family owned and operated textile company that hails back all the way to 1854! They use all natural fibers like cotton and linen and they make all their patterns in house. There are so many beautiful colors and designs to choose from it's hard to pick just one. I ultimately chose the Petate beach bag in blue ikat. It's huge and fits everything (I"m a bit of a pack rat, I like to be prepared for anything) They also make home accessories, clothing, shoes and bags even chairs. In this day and age when it's increasingly difficult to find items that are not mass produced, it's so special to find something unique and hand made.

Anyone who is familiar with my jewelry line, knows I LOVE lapis. I love it's rich vivid blue hue, reminiscent of an Yves Klein painting. I use lapis a lot in my pieces, both in my fashion and fine collection. One of my favorite fashion lapis styles are these elongated Sarotte drops. I purchased these lapis stones on one of my annual trips to the Tucson Gem Show and then electroformed 18k gold on them to make a minimal bezel. I really wanted the emphasis to be on the beauty of the lapis rather than a flashy setting, which is why I often opt for a minimalist clean setting when making my jewelry.

I hope whatever you're doing this holiday weekend, you're having fun and staying safe! Cheers!

Photo with flag: Kim Myers Robertson / Trunk Archive

Fashion, Beauty, Jewelry, Travel, Skin Care, Los Angeles CA

10 things you need this Memorial Day Weekend

It's Memorial Day Weekend! Where has the time gone? I can't believe we're already on the cusp of summer. Now that the Pasadena Showcase House of Design is over (more on this in an upcoming post), things are slowly returning to normal chez JC. Looking forward to some R&R with friends this weekend... got a birthday and a few BBQ's on tap. Nothing fancy just relaxed fun but that doesn't have to mean jean shorts and thongs.  Here are some of my current faves that have been on heavy rotation. Enjoy!

I go to Paris almost every year to visit family, when I'm there one of my favorite places to shop is Monoprix. In case you are unfamiliar, it's the french version of Target. I started shopping there when I had my son 5 years ago because their kids clothing is so cute and well priced. The kids designer used to be the designer for Bonpoint, a brand that I love but don't love the price point so much! Dries is so rough on his clothing that Bonpoint is only for special occasions, or a gift from grandma. But Monoprix, on the other hand, is for every day. One stop shopping with really good clothes at amazing price points. This cotton dress is only $50 and I can guarantee nobody else will have it! Since we're saving money on the dress, we can splurge on the accessories. Sticking with the neutral palette, are my Adeline earrings in Natural mother of pearl, mother of pearl and howlite. They make a statement without being too overpowering. Très chic!

Panama Hat by Scala, Le Specs No Smirking Sunglasses, Loeffler Randall Kiki Flat SlideEssie Fifth Avenue nail polish

I'm crazy about sun protection as you all know. I am always shielding my face from dangerous rays with a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. No early crow's feet for me! Since it's hotter out now, I've made the switch to a straw hat which keeps my head cool. I like this Panama from Scala because it goes with everything and it can even be packed or crushed. (Very necessary with a 5 year old in the house) Since I often have pink hair, I like to keep my sunglasses neutral and let my hair and jewelry be the star of the show. I chose these Le Specs No Smirking sunglasses because they pair well with gold, my preferred metal of choice. I've been lusting after these flats by Loeffler Randall since last summer, Jessie Randall's shoes are well made and last forever. I have several pairs and they're comfortable and stylish at the same time and look great season after season. After becoming a parent, I decided it was better for my lifestyle to splurge on cute flats as opposed to heels because that's what I wear about 99.9% of the time. No more heels for me! And lastly, with all these neutrals I love a pop of color. This Essie nail polish in Fifth Avenue, is a bright and cheery orangey red, while still being elegant and sophisticated. It looks great for a pedicure when paired with the gold sandal. Pro tip: Use the Essie Gel Setter top coat with it and it will last chip free one week! It makes such a difference, I'm really hard on my nails, using wire and pliers and it prolongs the wear considerably.

I've been looking for a good one piece for a while and when Shopbop had their recent 20% off sale, I splurged on this striped one by Solid & Striped. I love the unique colors in the stripe pattern and wanted something more fun than my old black one piece. It's a bold pattern yet slimming since they're vertical stripes and it could be cute worn as a bodysuit with shorts or a skirt even. I typically gravitate towards blues and greens but since having my hair pastel pink for the past few years I've been finding myself wearing a lot more corals and pink hues.

For sun protection, I always love Supergoop because it's cruelty free of parabens, pthlates etc and immediately absorbs without any sticky residue. Sunscreen is a pain so I like to make it as enjoyable a process as possible and Supergoop Body Butter definitely fits the bill. You can even reapply throughout the day without it pilling on your skin or getting gummy. If you are an avid sunscreener, you know what I'm talking about!

Now for jewels, this summer I'm re-launching a classic style, my lace filigree earrings. They're on the large side but they're lightweight so you can wear them all day. The lacy filigree gives it that boho feeling perfect for summer. Pair that with a chunky dome bangle and hat and sunnies and you're good to go!

Now, one of the things I look forward to most about the weekend, is relaxing with a drink in hand. I drink mostly white wine and rosé but have been lately trying to cut down on my alcohol intake as a way of reducing sugar and calories. I just can't get behind pouring soda water in my wine, it seems criminal to me to ruin a good glass of wine. I just try to alternate between each glass of wine with one glass of sparking water. However, I am always looking to liven up my non alcoholic libations so I'm excited to try this Rosemary, Honey and Grapefruit Spritzer recipe, courtesy of Tending the Table. It's refreshingly tart, not too sweet yet herbacious, what more can you ask for?! Cheers!

Rosemary, Honey and  Grapefruit Spritzer

Recipe by Tending the Table :   Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup honey

4  sprigs rosemary

1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (from about 5 grapefruit)

crushed ice

soda water

rosemary sprigs and grapefruit wedges to garnish

PROCEDURE

Combine the honey and rosemary in a small pot and gently heat over medium-low until the honey just begins to bubble around the edges, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile fill 4 glasses with crushed ice. Once the honey has cooled slightly, remove the sprigs of rosemary and transfer 1/4 cup of the infused honey to a jar with a tight fitting lid, add the grapefruit juice and shake vigorously until combined and frothy. Divide the mixture between the glasses and top with soda water. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and grapefruit wedges.

Travel, Los Angeles CA

how to do the poppy field superbloom with a 5 year old: Warning there may be whining!

I had heard about the super bloom of wildflowers in the California desert over the years but never thought much of it. Most likely because we have been experiencing a serious drought and for years there hasn't been much to see except brown, dry brush. This year though, we finally got some much needed rain, and lots of it (at least for us). Spring came early for Southern California, the wildflowers have been exploding all over the place. I see them allover on my hikes and daily errands in the car along the roadside.

I had heard reports from friends who had visited Anza Borrego and the Poppy Reserve that it was packed with people and traffic with long waits in the car. Neither are ideal if you are traveling with a 5 year old! I was looking for a little less of a commitment than A.B. or Death Valley since it was going to be just me and my son. My husband was off skiing for the day in Big Bear and I had a restless boy to entertain.  I decided to chance it and set off early in the am, by 8 after an initial travel delay. After a 70 mile drive, (5 fwy to the 14 fwy) we arrived a little past 10 am, and already the line of cars was snaking down and out of the Poppy reserve half a mile down. I would recommend setting out by 7 am for a 9 am arrival for less traffic and best light. I had heard that wildflower gazing was best accessed from the side of the road and not actually from the reserve itself. Because the reserve is protected land, visitors need to stick to trails and not wander off into the fields. I decided to pull over and bypass all the people crowding at the road side and wander through into the fields and low and behold Dries and I were alone with the poppies. It was magical, a perfect day with perfect weather. The sky was blue, there was a little crisp chill in the air with a slight breeze and the sun was shining bright. We took care where we walked and were careful not to trample or pick any flowers.

State flower of California: the  Poppy

State flower of California: the Poppy

Dries took this of me, not bad for a 5 year old!

Dries took this of me, not bad for a 5 year old!

Dries watches my husband Raf and I take a lot of pictures, either of jewelry or travel or daily life. We gave Dries one of our old cameras and he likes to practice along with us. This trip seemed like a great opportunity for a beginner photography lesson. We practiced composition, how to hold a camera and how to find your light source.  He was so proud and it helped him learned to look more critically at the scenery.   He took the picture of me above and the one below is his holding the flowers. Love the macro perspective with his little fingers!

Had to take a ring selfie! Shown L-R my  Sidewell  ring,  Diamond Bar  ring, and my  Diamond starburst  ring.

Had to take a ring selfie! Shown L-R my Sidewell ring, Diamond Bar ring, and my Diamond starburst ring.

We found a farmhouse and a ramshackle old trailer that made for some good exploring. For the video, scroll down to the end!

Dries was ready to get on the road at this point so we decided to head back to LA. As we walked back to our car, we saw even more cars had joined the line to get in the reserve and there was a line to head back to LA! I had noticed patches of yellow flowers on the way in so I wanted to make sure to check them out on the way back. I'm so glad I did, they were really stunning with views of the snow covered mountains in the distance.

Snow covered mountains in the distance. The colors of all the wildflowers are just incredible. All the photos published here are all #nofilter and not retouched!

Snow covered mountains in the distance. The colors of all the wildflowers are just incredible. All the photos published here are all #nofilter and not retouched!

Check out the video of our wildflower adventures!

Hope you go out and have your own adventure and of course, remember to treat the wildflowers with care and not leave any garbage. It is a tricky thing to experience being in nature without affecting it at all in any negative capacity. Car exhaust, touching or trampling plants, garbage and human negligence all take their toll on the landscape. Instead of only viewing nature through the lens of a screen it's crucial to go have the physical experience of sight, sound and smell. How else can we teach our kids to care about the environment if they never experience it firsthand? Being a native of California, I love that within one hour, you can be swimming at the beach, skiing in the mountains or walking in the desert. We truly are so lucky to have such a varied landscape. Go out and explore, I'd love to hear what you find!

Travel, Food

A Day in Solvang

Solvang, California

Solvang, California

The   Landsby

My curiosity in the Landsby was piqued by an article in Travel and Leisure. It's located in Solvang, a unique little town that looks like a Danish village in the middle of California.  I visited many years back but was intrigued by the photos of the addition of the new Scandinavian chic boutique hotel.  My great grandfather was from Copenhagen, and I would love to visit there one day.  Traveling with a toddler is tricky, so for now this is a lot closer!

Dining room at  Mad + Vin  (food and wine in Danish)

Dining room at Mad + Vin (food and wine in Danish)

Janna Conner Jewelry-10.jpg

Charcuterie plate at Succulent Cafe. Hands down the best charcuterie plate I've ever had. Great selection of meats and loved the picked vegetable garnishes. They also have a great wine list, which is always important! We chose to sit outside on the patio and enjoy the nice weather. It's also conveniently located directly across the street from the Landsby.

A trip to the Santa Ynez Valley wouldn't be complete without a little wine tasting! First stop: Lucas and Llewellyn tasting room. We weren't initially familiar with their wine but decided to check it out while waiting for our room to be ready.  It was conveniently located just a block from our hotel and provided the convenience of trying great, new wines without having to make the trek to individual wineries. We had their white wine tasting, and liked their chardonnay and viognier the best. We bought a few bottles to take home and enjoy later. It's always fun to drink a wine that conjures up a memory of a great trip!

The sunlit lobby facing Mission Drive at the Landsby

The sunlit lobby facing Mission Drive at the Landsby

I love the natural wood and neutral color palette with pops of yellow. I also appreciate the unexpected detail of the tiling on the underside of the stairway.  Santa Monica design firm, Studio Collective did a great job of creating a chic yet relaxed, and understated vibe. The Scandinavian chic look is on trend for decor, because it follows not only form but function as well. It's my style of choice for my downtown LA office and personal residence.

Raf standing with  Sherry by Rachel Brown .

Raf standing with Sherry by Rachel Brown.

Tina by Rachel Brown  in the Landsby Lobby.

Tina by Rachel Brown in the Landsby Lobby.

One of my favorite design elements of the Landsby are the paintings by Rachel Brown that are in the lobby and in most rooms. She is a Misssouri native, now calling West Los Angeles home. Rachel comes from a long line of artists, both her mother and grandmother are painters and she picked it up at a young age. Growing up on a farm and being a lover of travel and adventure, one can easily see both of these influences on her work. I personally enjoy the whimsical spirit of her paintings. She even teaches workshops in the LA area,  I may have to take one myself!

    Aebleskivers at Solvang Restaurant.

    Aebleskivers at Solvang Restaurant.

After lunch we walked over to the Solvang restaurant to try Aebleskivers (jam filled pancakes in ball form) Something you have to try while in town, as it is a quintessentially Danish treat.

We had so many recommendations for food in Santa Ynez but decided for dinner to go with one that was a true favorite of local residents. We heard countless recommendations for Industrial Eats in nearby Buellton, and it did not dissappoint. It's a short drive from Solvang, and as the name attests it's located in an industrial area.   Despite it's spare surroundings, it has an inviting interior with large shared tables and the restaurant and butcher shop features food sourced from the Central Coast. We enjoyed the mussels, oysters, zucchini accented pizza and shrimp & pancetta toast. Delicious! They also offer butchering workshops if you are keen to get your hands dirty and fresh preserves, pâtés, cheese and handmade bacon to go.

Winding down after a fun filled day.  Unpacking, never leave home without my Bottega Veneta travel duffle bag or my Valextra travel jewelry pouch to house all my many jewelry options! Also, shown Janna Conner Dome cuff bangle and Arria Amazonite Beaded Necklace. I spy Sherry peeking out behind me on the wall!

 I recently cut my hair and have been using Sachajuan to enhance natural waves. The Sisley Suprema Yeux eye cream is an indulgence, love the gold packaging and that it's a pump and not a pot so keeps product fresher longer. The Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse oil is great for cuticles, body, face and I even use it on my hair. Love multi functional products since I feel like it makes me a tiny bit faster in my constant struggle against the clock.  Love how my jewelry matches the decor! Shown Janna Conner Evita Crystal Point Necklace, mother of pearl tala ring, and 14k gold ear cuff.

The King bedroom with Patio, love the Goodnight on the wall. Such a sweet touch!

The King bedroom with Patio, love the Goodnight on the wall. Such a sweet touch!

Bottega Veneta sandals, Janna Conner dome cuff &  pearl Gilda ring .

Bottega Veneta sandals, Janna Conner dome cuff & pearl Gilda ring.

Time for bed! Janna Conner  diamond ear crawler ,  diamond disc , and  pyramid stud .

Time for bed! Janna Conner diamond ear crawler, diamond disc, and pyramid stud.

What a fun day of food, wine, design and décor! I know we'll be back soon Till next time!